Kat (firecrackergrrl) wrote in word4today,

Words of the Day

jadeluxe told me about this place after I started posting "Word of the Day" in the courtreporting community. She said I should cross-post here, so here it goes.

January 1st
Evergreen (adjective)

1. Having foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season.
2. Retaining freshness or interest: perennial.

Sentence: "Clint Eastwood has reinvented himself continually throughout his long career, which perhaps explains his evergreen appeal."

Now don't forget about word boundaries when adding this word to your dictionary! For instance, if you write a sentence like:

"This grass will be forever green" you don't want it to trans as "This grass will be for evergreen."

Did You Know?
Which adjective do you think has lasted longer in English: "evergreen" or "perennial"? If you count the hyphenated form "ever-green" (which, of course, meant "always green"), then "evergreen" is older; its earliest known use dates from 1555. If you're a purist and insist on the hyphen-free form, 1671 is the earliest date (although the noun "evergreen," meaning "conifer," has been around since at least 1644). The first English text known to use "perennial" as an adjective meaning "remaining green all year along" was published in 1644. But "perennial" wins in the more general "long-lasting" sense; it has been used with that enduring meaning since the early 1700s. "Evergreen" did not appear in English texts in that sense until the 1800s.

January 2nd
Tantivy (adjective)

1. In a headlong dash: at a gallop

Sentence: "When Marc broke open the pinata, his friends rushed tantivy for the scattered candy and toys."

Did you know?
"Tantivy" is also a noun meaning "rapid gallop" or "impetuous rush." Although its precise origin isn't known, one theory has it that "tantivy" represents the sound of a galloping horse's hooves. The noun does double duty as a word meaning "Blare of a trumpet or horn." This is probably due to confusion with "tantara," a word for the sound of a trumpet that came about as an imitation of that sound. Both "tantivy" and "tantara" were used during foxhurts; in the heat of the chase, people may have jumbled the two.

January 3rd
Chary (adjective)

1. Discreetly cautious as:
(a) hesitant and vigilant about dangers and risks
(b) slow to grant, accept, or expend

Sentence: "Chris was particularly chary about investing in stocks after the sudden dip in the market."

Did You Know?
It was sorrow that bred the caution of "chary." In Middle English "chary" meant "sorrowful," a sense that harks back to the Old English "caru" (an early form of "care," another term that originally meant "sorrow" or "grief"). In a sense switch that demonstrates that love can be both bitter and sweet, "chary" later came to mean "dear" or "cherished." That's how 16th-century English dramatist George Peele used it: "the chariest and the choicest queen, That ever did delight my royal eyes." Both sorrow and affection have largely faded away now, however, and in Modern English "chary" is most often used as a synonym of either "careful" or "sparing."

January 4th
Palatable (adjective)

1. Agreeable to the palate or taste: savory
2. Pleasing or agreeable to the mind: acceptable

Sentence: "When I asked Griffin for his opinion of the restaurant, he told me the food was terrible but at least the wine was palatable."

Did You Know?
"Palatable" comes from "palate," a Latin-derived word for the roof of the mouth. The palate was once believed to be the seat of the sense of taste, so the word eventually came to mean "sense of taste" or, broadly, "liking." "Palatable" has been used in English to refer to palate-pleasing foods since 1669, but it isn't our only - or our oldest - adjective for agreeable tastes. "Savory" dates from the 13th century. "Toothstome" has been around since 1551. "Tasty" was used back in 1617. And "appetizing" has been gracing culinary reviews since 1653.

January 5th
Duress (noun)

1. Forcible restraint or restriction
2. Compulsion by threat; specifically: unlawful constraint

Sentence: "The defense attorney insisted his client had confussed under duress."

Did You Know?
A word of hardy stock, "duress" has been part of the English language since the 14th century and boasts a number of long-lived relatives. "Duress" itself came into Middle English through the Anglo-French "duresce" (meaning "hardness" or "severity"), which stems from the Latin "durus," meaning "hard." Some obvious relatives of the robust root are "durable," "endure," and "obdurate" (meaning "unyielding" or "hardened in feelings"). Some others are "dour" (meaning "harsh", "unyielding," or "gloomy") and "during". Some think the Latin word "durus" is related to the Sanskrit "daru," which means "wood."

January 6th
Rubicon (noun)

1. A bounding or limiting line; especially: one that when crossed commits a person irrevocably

Sentence: "Denise was almost certain that she wanted to take the job, but she couldn't quite cross the Rubicon to sign the contract."

Did You Know?
In 49 BC, Julius Caesar led his army to the banks of the Rubicon, a small river that marked the boundary between Italy and Gaul. Caesar knew that Roman law forbade a general from leading his army out of the province to which he was assigned and that by crossing the Rubicon he would violate that law. "The die is cast," he said, wading in. That act defiance sparked a three-year civil war that ultimately left Julius Caesar the undisputed ruler of the Roman world. Centuries later, it also inspired English-speakers to adopt two popular sayings: "Crossing the Rubicon" and "The die is cast."

January 7th
Applesauce (noun)

1. A relish or dessert made of apples stewed to a pulp and sweetened
2. Bunkum, nonsense

Sentence: "All I ever have handed me is a lot of applesauce from the numerous friends who drink my drinks and eat my provender."

Did You Know?
English offers a smorgasbord of words for nonsense, some of which are better known as words for food. We have "baloney," "spinach," "rhubarb," and "toffee," not to mention "full of beans." And if none of those offerings is to your taste, you can say, "That's pure banana oil!" The seemingly innocuous "applesauce" was first introduced to this menu in the 1920s. Back then, there may have been some bias against the real stuff. Poet Wallace Stevens' turn-of-the-century description of a meal consisting of "some unnameable smathering of greasy fritters... and of course the inevictable applesauce" shows a lack of respect that must have been shared by others.

January 8th
Mordacious (adjective)

1. Biting or given to biting
2. Biting or sharp in manner or style: caustic

Sentence: "Some of the more mordacious lines delivered by the stepmother in the play are also some of the funniest."

Did You Know?
The Earl of Carnarvan, referred to in 1650 as "mordacious," didn't go around biting people; it was his "biting" sarcasm that inspired that description. The word's association with literal biting didn't come up until later, occurring first in an 18th-century reference to "mordacious" bats. If you prefer a less esoteric option, you can choose "mordant," a synonym that sees a bit more use. Both adjectives descend from Latin "mordere," a verb meaning (literally) "to bite or sting." If you want to sink your teeth into more mordere derivatives, you might use "mordacity" to refer to a biting quality of speech or substitute "mordancy" for "incisiveness" or "harshness."

January 9th
Fatidic (adjective)

1. Of or relating to prophecy

Sentence: "The eerie feeling I experienced when I saw two Scottish terriers at the airport proved fatidic - we would have to land in Scotland for emergency repairs."

Did You Know?
As you might guess, "fatidic" is a relative of the word "fate." Both terms descend from the Latin "fatum," literally "what has been spoken." In the eyes of the ancients, your fate was out of your hands - what happened to you was up to gods and demigods. Predicting your fate was a job for oracles and prophets. Not surprisingly, "fatidic" also shares an ancestor with the word "predict." Both words trace to the Latin "dicere," which means "to say."

January 10th
Cock-a-hoop (adjective)

1. Triumphantly boastful: exulting
2. Awry

Sentence: "Still cock-a-hoop over last week's victory, the team needs to remember that there's still one game to go."

Did You Know?
The adjective "cock-a-hoop" comes from the curious expression "to set cock a hoop," which in the 16th and 17th centuries meant "to drink or celebrate without restraint." Although no one knows whether that expression had any connection with the "rooster" sense of "cock," people thought it did - and this perceived association influenced the meaning of "cock-a-hoop." That's why the modern phrase often suggests the cock's triumphant crow.

January 11th
Palmary (adjective)

1. Outstanding, best

Sentence: "Louis Pasteur is best known for originating pasteurization, but he also made palmary contributions in the field of immunology, including finding a vaccine for anthrax."

Did You Know?
English-speakers have been using "palmary" since the 1600s, and its history stretches back even further than that. To describe someone or something extraordinary, the ancient Romans used the word "palmarius," which literally translates as "deserving the palm." But what does that mean exactly? A good guess would be that it was inspired by palms of hands coming together in applause, but the direct inspiration for palmarius was the palm leaf given to a victor in a sports competition. That other palm, the one on the hand, is loosely related. The Romans thought the palm tree's leaves resembled an outstretched palm of the hand; they thus used their word "palma" for both meanings, just as we do with "palm" in English.

January 12th
Bombinate (verb)

1. To buzz, drone

Sentence: "Mr. Carter bombinated on through the house, seeemingly oblivious to the yawns and frequent watch-checking in the classroom."

Did You Know?
"Bombinate" sounds like it should be the province of bombastic blowhards who bombard you with loud, droning blather at parties - and it is. The word derives from the Greek "bombos," a term that probably originated as an imitation of a deep, hollow sound (the kind we would likely refer to as "booming" nowadays). Latin-speakers rendered the original Greek form as "bombus," and that root gave us such English offspring as "bombinate," "bomb," "bombard," "bombilate" (which means the same thing as "bombinate"), and even "bound." However, the Latin "bombus" is not a direct ancestor of "bombastic," which traces to "bombyx," a Greek name for the silkworm.

January 13th
Endemic (adjective)

1. Characteristic of or prevalent in a particular field, area, or environment
2. Restricted or peculiar to a locality or region

Sentence: "Melvin is out to score some beef at one of those cafeteria-style steakhouses now endemic to the outskirts of so many towns."

Did You Know?
Translated literally, "endemic" means "in the population." It derives from the Greek "endemos," which joins "en" ("in") and "demos" ("population"). "Endemic" is often used to characterize diseases that are generally found in a particular area; malaria, for example, is said to be endemic to tropical and subtropical regions. This use differs from that of the related word "epidemic" in that it indicates a more or less constant presence in a particular population or area rather than a sudden, severe outbreak within that region or group. The word is also used by biologists to characterize plant and animal species found only in a given area.

January 14th
Quidnunc (noun)

1. A person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip: busybody

Sentence: "Those who criticize Joanne for being a quidnunc are usually the first to go to her when they want to know the latest gossip."

Did You Know?
"What's new?" That's a question every busybody wants answered. Latin-speaking Nosey Parkers might have used some version of the expression "quid nunc," literally "what now," to ask the same question. Appropriately, the earliest documented English use of "quidnunc" to refer to a gossiper appeared in 1709 in Sir Richard Steele's famous periodical, The Tatler. Steele is far from the only writer to ply "quidnunc" in his prose, however. You can find the word among the pages of works by Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But don't think the term is entirely relgated to old news - it sees use in the current publications, too.

January 15th
Rectitude (noun)

1. The quality or state of being straight
2. Moral integrity: righteousness
3. The quality of state of being correct in judgment or procedure

Sentence: "He was a stern but kind man of impeccable rectitude, and he passed on a set of strong moral values to his children and grandchildren."

Did You Know?
"Rectitude" comes straight from the Latin noun "rectus," which means both "right" and "straight," and our word can mean either "straightness" (an early use referred to literal straightness of lines, although this sense is now rare) or "rightness" or character. "Rectus" has a number of other descendants in English, including "rectangle" (a figure with four right angles), "rectify" ("to make right"), "rectilinear" ("moving in or forming a straight line"), and even "rectus" itself (a medical term for any one of several straight muscles in the body).

January 16th
Largesse (noun)

1. Liberal giving
2. A generous gift

Sentence: "The symphony depended upon the largesse of a few wealthy benefactors to finance extravagant concerts that included world-class soloists and elaborate production numbers."

Did You Know?
The word "largesse," which is also spelled "largess," has been part of the English language since at least the 13th century. It derives via Anglo-French from the Latin word "largus," meaning "abundant" or "generous." "Largus" is also the source of our word "large." A far back as the 14th century, we used the word "largeness" as a synonym of "largesse" ("liberal giving"). In fact, that may have been the first sense of "largeness," which has since come to refer to physical magnitude and bulk more often than to magnanmity.
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